WEDNESDAY, Jan. 28, 2009 - M. Langwald (Rescuer of Odysseus / Leader deposed in 1955 / Puzzlemaker Rubik)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "MADE IN TAIWAN" - first words of theme answers, spoken in order, become a giant homophone of this phrase, allegedly found on CHILD'S TOYS (60A: Bearers of a phrase suggested by saying the starts of 17-, 24-, 38- and 49-Across)
Word of the Day: UMIAK - The umiak, umiaq, umiac, oomiac or oomiak is a type of boat used by Eskimo people, both Yupik and Inuit, and was originally found in all coastal areas from Siberia to Greenland. Its name means "woman's boat," as opposed to the kayak, which means "man's boat" (wikipedia)
I haven't seen a "Made in Taiwan" label in a long, long time. CHILD'S TOYS are now, predominantly, notoriously, "MADE IN CHINA" - that is the phrase on almost every piece of inventory in the "Christmas Tree Store" here where I live - we went inside once just to see if we could find Anything without a "MADE IN CHINA" label on it. No success - literally none - until we got to the back of the store, where the art prints were, and found something made in Canada, and then something made in the U.S.A. How many "MADE IN TAIWAN" labels did we see? None. I've been in a lot of toy stores in recent years - having a child will do that to you. Can't recall seeing a "MADE IN TAIWAN" sticker. I feel like the "MADE IN TAIWAN" label was a common thing in this country 20+ years ago, before the big industrial boom in China. Today's theme, especially with its reference to TOYS, feels oddly dated and off. It's CHINA, CHINA, CHINA now. Everywhere. All the time. Has been for years.
I was secretly hoping LEAD would be somewhere in the puzzle.
- 17A: Robin Hood's love (Maid Marian) - whose name I can Never spell correctly, perhaps because of my undying (I just typed "undrying!?") love for Mrs. C, i.e. MARION Ross from "Happy Days"
- 24A: One at the front desk, perhaps (innkeeper)
- 38A: Nail-biter, perhaps (tie game)
- 49A: Leader deposed in 1955 (Juan Peron)
Lots of doers of one kind of another, from dwellers (44A: Pueblo dweller -> TAOS) to puzzlemakers (13A: Puzzlemaker Rubik -> ERNO) to chipmakers (24D: Major chipmaker -> INTEL). The roughest "ER" of all, though was 54A: Rescuer of Odysseus (Ino). I've read it several times, even taught it once or twice, and I absolutely blanked on this answer. Talk about your walk-on parts. Yeesh. It's a good thing that the only plausible vowel in the first position was "I," or else I'd have been in real trouble (all praise to crosswordy NILS for the assist - 48D: Rock's Lofgren). Got thrown by 7D: Men in blue - wanted POLICE, which I'm sure was the point of the clue. Had UNI- and wrote in UNITS. Got UNION and grumbled until I realized the UNION in question was one side in the Civil War; then I thought, "good one." As for TAOS, here is yet another place named for a tribe. I didn't know the TAOS were a tribe. Now I do. Soon I will forget. So sad. As for the Rubik's cube - here is an article from the front page (seriously, front page) of my local paper earlier this week. Apparently one of my colleagues is some big deal Rubik's cube solver. She has a solving method named for her.
- 16A: Played for a cat's-paw (used) - not an expression I've ever heard. Must come from a time when toys were Made In Taiwan.
- 19A: Like some telegrams (sung) - cute. Needed crosses.
- 41A: Come to mind (occur) - this doesn't feel ... equivalent. I'm trying to think of phrases where you can swap these out, and I'm failing. You need extra words to make this one work neatly. I guess you could say, "When certain thoughts OCCUR, I just push them out of my head..." In that situation, the swap-out would work. But usually OCCUR is used in the phrase "OCCUR to me [or whomever]"
- 55A: 1960s role for Diana Rigg (Emma Peel) - mmmm, Peel.
- 53D: Place for pimiento (olive) - I wrote in LOAVE and thought "No way, that's not a word!" Indeed.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Happy Birthday to reader SethG